History

Sally Scull, the Texas Siren: Did She Murder Her Husbands?

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The women of Texas are often known for being tough, confident, and independent. Sally Scull, however, took the notoriety of the Texas woman to the next level. She was a horse trader, rancher, and a talented marksman. She was known for many things, but what she is known most for is allegedly getting away with killing three of her five husbands.

Sally Scull was born Sarah Jane Newman in the early 1800s and was a young girl when she came to Texas. Her grandparents were one of the first Anglo-Americans to settle in the Austin colony right before the battle of San Jacinto. Her grandfather built a sawmill and gristmill, and in return, Stephen F. Austin gave him virgin land.

Sally Scull, the Texas Siren: Did She Murder Her Husbands?

Photo: @medano via Twenty20

Scull grew up just as rough and foulmouthed as her male counterparts. Like any other tough Texan at the time, she had no fear fighting off the Comanche. As a young woman, she lived in many areas around Texas from the Colorado River to the Rio Grande. Her wild side came from her pioneer ancestors who are accredited for opening the American frontier.

Scull loved many things about Texas, especially the men. However, legend has it that she’d rather kill a husband than divorce him. She married her first husband when she was 16. Scull had a quick temper and was easily unhinged when provoked. An eyewitness claimed he saw Sally Scull shoot her first husband dead with a six-shooter. She claimed it was self-defense.

Sally Scull, the Texas Siren: Did She Murder Her Husbands?

Photo: @crowleya via Twenty20

The people who knew Scull described her as a “merciless killer.” She went on to become a gunslinger, earning her notoriety in Texas. She didn’t take disrespect from men, nor did she allow them to make foul comments about her. She was known for making men she considered bad-mannered to dance by shooting at their feet.

Scull’s second husband disappeared, and not much is known about her third husband. Her fourth husband, however, was lucky enough that she left him instead of shooting him. It was her fifth husband that did her in. He was much younger than her. At the peak of her fame, they rode out of town, but only her husband returned. Scull had ‘disappeared,’ and a woman’s body was found later in a nearby shallow grave by a drifter, but the body was unidentifiable.

Scull’s character was portrayed by O-Lan Jones in the mini-series, “Lonesome Dove” in 1989. Her spitfire, no-nonsense, gunslinging pride lives on, not just in history, but also in many Texas women today. She might have been a killer, but Scull is remembered as a Texas legend.